Welcome to the september issue of the celebration
Here's what you'll find inside:
BEHIND THE BRAND
Featuring Scared of My Shadow
IT'S YOUR STORE
3 Tips to Prepare Your Store Now for Stronger Holiday Sales
HIA NEWS & NOTES
The HIA launched a brand new website with tips, trends and the top 10
HALLOWEEN & PARTY EXPO SHOW UPDATES
The Brewing, Boos & Booze Annual Costume Ball has a new date!
BehInd the brand
HAuNTcon (HC): Tell us about your company history.
Scared of My Shadow (SOMS): So, you could call me a chicken or at least, the kid version of me. You see, I didn't grow up loving horror like most scare makers, nope, not this little peep. To be quite honest, I was downright heebie-jeebied by all things killer: mega sharks, eggplant-headed aliens, zombified hordes, demon dollies but most of all, those elusive masked maniacs. But you gotta cross that road and face your freak-outs, sometime right? So long story short, Chicken Little grows up and bawk-bawks at her childhood fears and starts incubating all things playfully creeptastic. Scared of my Shadow is hatched.
With over 15 years of professional design and construction expertise in costumes, masks and props, Scared of my Shadow knows how to engineer a hauntingly beautiful scare without sacrificing comfort. SOMS is proud to be a woman owned and operated business.
HC: What's your favorite product you're offering this year?
SOMS: My favorite new addition to our mask collection would have to be our jackalope inspired mask, Rabid Rabbit. Not only does it have a striking presence as a display piece but also the scale of the mask is truly transformative on a wearer. Worn with a simple hooded cloak, you instantly have a haunting character to creep in the woods or, don Rabid Rabbit with a distressed jacket and bloody timepiece for a twist on the Wonderland mythos.
HC: What brought you to HAuNTcon and the Halloween & Party Expo?
SOMS: I decided to give HAuNTcon a try for a multiple reasons. First and foremost, I am trying to grow my business. A show floor that features a marriage between a haunters convention and a retail buyers event seemed like an excellent opportunity to explore the possibility of a wholesale market AND give my fellow haunters a peep at what’s incubating in SOMS’ coop before any other tradeshows. And, being in NOLA was also a draw; there’s a town that knows how to masquerade! What better place to show your wares for a mask maker.
HC: What's your favorite part of Halloween?
SOMS: I don’t think I could boil down my love of Halloween to a single part but if I HAD to, it would have to be the shared experience of the season. For me, it’s about crunching through leaves in a seemingly endless wood to spook yourself and your friends. It’s about the mundane call of a crow transforming into a portent of doom. It’s the harvest moon igniting the paths with deep shadows and a chill that isn’t just the falling temperatures. It is the imagination taking hold and rattling your chains, sending your friends into peals of laughter at your folly. It’s mistaking an actor for a prop, a wall for a doorway or an end for a beginning. It’s the ache from that laughing and laughing and laughing so hard and knowing, that you are quite literally, not outta those woods yet!
HC: Where can haunters find more information about your company?
Facebook: scared of my shadow
it's your store
Halloween & Party Expo (HEP): Tell us about the history of your company.
Mark Young (MY): The store began in 1994 as a side business to what was then College Formals. My former wife and I started Costumania as a way to generate money outside of the formal-wear season. In 2015, we sold that portion to Everything Tuxedo but kept the costume shop. Costumania in West Lebanon has everything you need to dress up as your favorite character and not just for Halloween. We're open all year-round. We're not a pop-up, take-the-money-and-run-store. We're a small local business and we hope people will shop at locally owned stores. It was the mom-and-pop stores that helped this country grow.
HPE: What do you predict will be the most popular costume/prop this year?
MY: The Incredibles movies will be popular. The whole family can go as all of the characters. Superheros are always popular. So is Pennywise. It's been that way for years. Cosplay costumes tied to video games and anime characters are popular with teens and adults. And so are the motion-activated Halloween props.
HPE: What makes your store different than others?
MY: The shop offers items priced from 99 cents to $1,000. What could you get for a grand? That would be a Darth Vader deluxe costume. Beyond Halloween, Costumania has apparel and accessories for many other occasions. For example, the shop offers an extensive collection of items from bachelorette parties, including sashes, cups, car decorations, and photo props. Need a wig, beard, mustache, or theatre makeup? You'll find those here too, as well as capes, cloaks, hats, glasses, fangs, and teeth. There are also party props and decorations. Say you're throwing a pirate party, you can come in and ask "Do you have 100 hats, swords, and eye patches in stock?" We do!
HPE: Besides costumes and props, what else do you have available in your store?
MY: Beyond costumes, the store is also the go-to place for the entire Melissa and Doug line of toys, and you'll find Yelete leggings and Liberty Wear shirts for women as well.
HPE: What do you see in store for the future of Costumania?
MY: I hope people who shop at Costumania for Halloween realize they can dress up for events throughout the year. There are plenty of opportunities - from New Year's Eve (costume parties) and Mardi Gras through Easter (bunny ears) and July 4 (Uncle Sam) to Thanksgiving (Turkey hats and pilgrim costumes) and Christmas (elf ears and Santa suits).
With the holidays just around the corner, there is no better time than now to prepare for a strong season of sales. In fact, in 2017, $108.15 billion was spent in November and December alone – giving retailers 108.15 reasons to want to prepare now to be a part of the upcoming rush of consumer spending. And with the National Retail Federation reporting that many retailers see as much as 30% of their annual sales made during the holiday season, there’s no better time than now to make sure your store is prepared to capture some of these dollars.
In order to help your retail business gain strength – and sales – this upcoming holiday season, consider the following three tips.
Tip #1: Incorporate High-Margin Items Throughout Your Store to Increase Revenue
Whether it’s $1 packages of holiday themed napkins, $5 plush toys or an assortment of novelty items under $20 each, items that are less expensive tend to move faster when it comes to sales. The catch? These same items should have strong margins so that despite their lower price points, your store is still making a strong return on their sales. To further enhance the opportunity to move this inventory, consider how strategically merchandising these items near your cash wrap area will help entice customers to purchase these impulsively – even if they had not intended to. Providing displays that encourage customers to engage with these lower priced items can also help your store increase stronger sell-thru of this inventory. The real takeaway is this, however… Source items now (if you haven’t already) to incorporate into your holiday inventory assortment that will deliver strong margins each time a single unit is sold. Aim for 100% margins to truly optimize this opportunity – and don’t overlook the power of displays when it comes to selling items for a higher value than traditional margins may identify.
Tip #2: Give Your Store a Merchandising Facelift to Help Increase Holiday Sales
Stores are busier during the holiday season and thus, customers are, too. Keeping this in mind, aim to create a shopping environment that appeals to busy customers. Introduce pre-wrapped gifts that customers can simply grab, purchase and go (review past year sales to see what sold best during the holidays then consider like-minded inventory to pre-wrap for this year), as well create gift-lists for customers to reference via store signage that identifies your store’s top choices for teacher gifts, hostess presents, gifts for friends and family, babysitter presents, white-elephant parties and more. You can also share gift ideas via signage to remind your customers you have gift cards ready for purchase, as well. Another tip to consider is to add mirrors throughout your store displays for customers to look at any inventory they may wear – or want to buy for others – that may include holiday apparel, accessories and more. The key is to make sure this inventory is easy for customers to touch and engage with. The reality is sales associates are not always able to help customers so through displays and signage, your store can better support customers despite this reality during the upcoming holiday season.
Tip #3: Leverage Social Media to Increase Last-Minute Sales
Have you ever waited until the last minute to make a holiday purchase? If you’re like many customers, this is a reality that too few want to admit to… yet many make it an annual tradition whether they like it or not. Leverage this reality and turn to social media to help drive sales to your store. With only a few clicks of a button, customers can gain inspiration from your store inventory that you share via social media… and actually make a purchase if you incorporate the right social commerce tools to help them do so. Even without an e-commerce site, this is a selling avenue brick and mortar stores should consider to help strengthen sales this holiday season. Not convinced? MarketingWeek reported that 56% of consumers turn to social media for product reviews and recommendations – reinforcing that social media is influential in consumer purchase decisions. Actively highlight your store’s inventory on social media this holiday season and leading up to it, as well, to ensure you are capturing customer attention where customers area… aka social media. Prepare now by requesting inventory images from your vendors or making store specific graphics you can share later via social. You can also simply take pictures in real-time at your store then share them via social. The real takeaway is to simply commit to this as a priority so you don’t miss out on sales later.
Remember, the holidays are filled with opportunities to engage and connect with customers – but you are not the only retailer aiming for their attention. Prepare now so that you won’t wish you had later. With the help of holiday inspired storefronts, festive displays and seasonal music to help your store come to life this holiday season, you can better capture both customer attention and customer dollars… something any retailer can appreciate!
HALLOWEEN HAS A BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW WEBSITE WITH TIPS, TRENDS AND THE TOP 10
The Halloween & Costume Association (HCA) -- also known as the Halloween Industry Association -- has just rolled out the ultimate resource for the nearly 200 million Americans who have been counting the days till October. With a mixture of whimsy and nostalgia, the new site will entertain and educate while covering everything from industry trends to cool new costumes and accessories.
“With the 2018 Top 10 costume predictions including everything from superheroes to political villains, we’re expecting to see some pretty amazing selfies on social media this year,” said Kevin Johnson, HCA Chairman and Chief Excitement Officer at Elope. As for trends, the HCA is forecasting family costumes, group getups and pop culture references galore as well as a resurgence in costumes that stir up nostalgia. “There are 17 million millennial moms out there. As the only demographic that will be able to remember a time without the internet, digital natives are attracted to all things retro and they are the ones responsible for most of the Halloween spending,” continued Johnson.
In addition to a calendar of events and parties taking place across the country, site visitors will also find safety tips, industry stats and little-known Halloween facts and folklore. As more and more people are finding year-round costuming opportunities, the Throw a Wicked Party section offers up some epic ideas for theme nights, block parties and annual outings. The site also boasts a variety of contests for those who approach costuming as a competitive sport.
Known as THE industry source for Halloween, with cumulative sales of $3 billion, the HCA has earned the title of “EXPERT” when it comes to all things costume related. These are the folks that live and breathe October all year long and can dish for days on the myths, legends, trends, traditions, safety tips and devilish details that only a true insider would know.
The HCA has countless costume connoisseurs available for interview. For more details on the exciting 2018 trends, themed party ideas, upcoming holidays and random reasons to sport a superhero suit, visit www.halloweencostumeassociation.org.